A process spanning the last five months came to its completion in the Robinson Education Center in Manhattan on Wednesday evening. The USD 383 school board unanimously voted to partner with BG Consultants of Manhattan for long-range facility planning following a lengthy round table discussion.
The journey started back in April when the district expressed an interest in exploring facility needs and planning for future growth. Eric Reid, assistant superintendent, began accepting applications before five final firms presented to board members in August. Four of the five firms are based in Manhattan. Board members expressed their discomfort on the matter, saying all five of the firms were qualified and turning down local businesses was not a pleasant experience.
“There’s gonna be plenty of work to go around, so this isn’t the end-all, be-all,” said school board member Aaron Estabrook.
Estabrook noted plenty of future construction projects lined up for the future and that there would be more opportunities for work.
The board also heard a report on substance abuse in the district. Kari Humes, director of alcohol and substance abuse, was present to speak on behalf of the written report. According to Humes, alcohol and tobacco use is on the decline within the Manhattan High student body.
Humes referenced a survey which was administered by the school to sophomores and seniors. Humes’ data reflects the last 16 years, and Humes said Manhattan is following the current trend both statewide and nationally.
Humes said the trend at MHS is the result of many social services throughout the community advocating against substance abuse. However, it appears teenagers have found other ways to fill their time.
“We definitely have less kids that drink and more kids that do marijuana,” Humes said. “I think that will have to be a focus for us as it becomes more accessible and permissible.”
The rest of the fall became a topic of discussion as board members started planning future meeting agendas. Most notably, the mascot issue will be resolved one way or the other by the end of the semester. A public forum will be held Nov. 30 in Rezac Auditorium at Manhattan High West Campus. Board members are still working on the logistics of how the public comment session will work. Board president Marcia Rozell said a moderator from the Kansas Association of School Boards will be conducting the public forum in November in order to maintain impartiality and order.
Rozell said the issue could be voted on at the Dec. 7 meeting.